Krishnadevaraya(1509 to 1529)

Krishnadevaraya of the Tuluva dynasty of Vijayanager empire was the most popular and successful ruler. He ruled from 1509 to 1529. This was the golden period for the Vijayanagar Empire and during its zenith the empire extended its influence on its neighboring rulers too. He defeated the Bahamani Sultans of Deccan and annexed Bijapur, Gulbarga and Bidar. He subdued the local rulers and extended his kingdom to Krishna, Godavari and Kaveri rivers. He defeated the Gajapatis of Orissa to control much of Andhra including Telangana region. The defeated Gajapati King offered his daughter in marriage, who became Krishnadevraya’s third queen.

Kannada and Telugu were the official languages of the court. He considered the ruler should always have an eye on the dharma and this reflected in his extensive annual tours of the kingdom where he tried to assess the situation himself. Art and literature flourished under his rule.

He was fluent in several languages including his mother tongue Tulu. His reign was a golden period for Telugu literature. Kannada, Sanskrit and Tamil literature was also patronized by Krishnadevraya.

Eight poets known as Astadiggajalu (eight elephants in the eight cardinal points) were part of his court. His court was known as Bhuvana-vijayamu. According to the Vaishnavite religion there are eight elephants in eight corners in space and hold the earth in its place. Similarly these eight poets were the eight pillars of his literary assembly. These eight poets were Allasani Peddana, Nandi Thimmana, Madayyagari Mallana, Dhurjati, Ayyala-raju Rama-Bhadrudu, Pingali Surana, Ramaraju Bhushanudu and Tenali Rama Krishna.

Allasani Peddana was considered the greatest poet of them all and is known as the Andhra Kavita Pitamaha (the father of Telugu poetry). Tenali RamaKrishna or Tenali Rama is the most popular of them all and has many folk stories portraying his quick wit. Krishnadevaraya also wrote Amuktamalyada in Telugu.

Mallanarya, Chatu Vittalanatha, Timmanna Kavi and Vyasatirtha were the Kannada poets patronized by Krishnadevaraya. Vyasatirtha was also a Sanskrit scholar and produced works of literature in both Kannada and Sanskrit. Tamil poet Haridasa was also patronized by the king.

Krishnadevaraya patronized all religious sects and was a devotee of Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati and even now we can see the images of Krishnadevaraya along with his two queens standing with folded hands in the Tirupati temple. The images have their names written in Kannada.

Krishnadevaraya toured the remote corners of his empire and heard the grievances of the people and redressed them then and there. He set up an excellent administrative system. The empire was divided into Mandalas, Nadus and Seeme. For the purpose of assessment and fixation of revenue, Krishnadevaraya had the whole of his empire surveyed. The unit of land for assessment was known as Rayarekhe or the royal line and which measured roughly about seven feet and nine inches. Twenty of these units made a bigha and 36 bigha’s, a mar or plot of 16 to 18 acres. Land revenue was fixed based on the yield, normally 1/3rd of the produce. Krishnadevaraya provided irrigation facilities to the dry regions around Vijayanagara with the help of a Portuguese engineer.

Krishnadevaraya built two new suburbs in the capital and called it Nagalapura and Tirumala Deviyarapattana in honour of his mother, Nagala Devi and queen Tirumalamba.

It is said that Krishnadevaraya in his own lifetime had made his six year old son prince Tirumalaraya as the king and himself took up the post of minister. But Tirumalaraya fell ill and died possibly poisoned by the son of Saluva Timma (chief minister). When Krishnadevaraya came to know of it, he sent for the chief minister, accused him in open court and cast him and his whole family into prison. Meanwhile Krishnadevaraya was preparing for an attack on Belgaum, then in the Adil Shah’s possession when he took seriously ill and died soon after in 1529. Before his death, he nominated his brother, Achyutaraya to be his successor. The rule of Krishnadevaraya was a glorious chapter in the history of Vijayanagara Empire.

A collection by Upendra kumar.

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